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Oscar winners Al Pacino and Helen Mirren are joining forces to star in an HBO biopic on legendary music producer Phil Spector, who is currently serving a prison sentence for the murder of actress Lana Clarkson. Oscar nominated writer David Mamet penned the project.
During the TV Critics Association press tour panel on the project, Mamet, who wrote Glengarry Glen Ross, admitted that he never really had any interest in Spector, who is best known for his “Wall of Sound” style of production in the 1960s. The playwright thought Specter was “a freak and a murderer” during his trial, reports USA Today. However, when his agent sent him the documentary The Agony and Ecstasy of Phil Spector, he became interested in Spector.
Mamet decided to tell the story of the trial from his attorney Linda Kenney Baden’s perspective, in an attempt to not “indict” the victim. Baden attended the panel and noted that she is still unconvinced that Spector actually committed the crime, notes Deadline.
“It was not proven,” she said. “and to some degree that’s what this movie explores. What does reasonable doubt mean in a jury trial?”
“All I knew when we started the project is that he was a freak who killed some girl,” Mamet added.
Pacino discussed his approach to Spector, noting that he decided to reject any other facts about him and focus on what Mamet saw. “The play is the thing. It's what I read from Mamet about this particular character. That is my extent of my knowledge about him. I didn't meet him because he's in prison, he's already been convicted. This man I'm playing is the guy who was there before he was convicted …It's a different Phil Spector now,” Pacino noted.
Mirren plays Baden in the film and replaced Bette Midler, who left after two weeks because of an injury. When asked how she could take over when they look nothing alike, Mirren joked, “We're both blonde.”
According to Reuters, Spector was convicted in 2009 after a second trial and sentenced to 19 years to life. The first trial ended in a mistrial.
Phil Spector airs on HBO on March 24.